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* Standard Sports Reporter: Chris Carlson

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* 7News Sports Reporter - Rob Krone

We will recap game one for the 2014 Syracuse Orange! Plus, Section 3 football gets rolling and we'll have it covered inside and out. And, not that anyone could forget, the NFL officially kicks off this week, too. It's a big show, tune in at 7 a.m.!

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Syracuse Football: Is This The Worst Season Opener Ever?







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It's a fair question, right?

But first, a little trivia to start: Did you know, Syracuse is 5-1 in weekday games since 2012? That doesn't even include bowl wins over that time span!

And now, the attention-grabbing question: Is this it the worst season opener ever?

(That means hype or buzz surrounding the game, not in terms actual game results.)

Okay, I know I've complained about this enough, and I do want to try and stay positive about Syracuse's season opener against Villanova this Friday night. So I might as well look at the bright side(s), right?

And first and foremost, or shiniest I suppose, be the opponent FCS or FBS, or Section III for that matter, we are just days away from real live football action. And coming off a fairly successful 2013, this season should be pretty entertaining, at the least. In fact, I'm about to make an extremely bold prediction on just how many wins this Orange outfit will earn in 2014 (stay tuned for my possible bold, possibly blind prediction later this week). That's reason enough to be amped for Friday.

Along the same note, in looking at Syracuse's season-opening games over the last two decades, maybe something of a creampuff-start is exactly what the doctor ordered? Plus, as pointed out, the Orange seems to be a lock on non-Saturday game days over the last couple of years. Sure, there's likely to be more bleacher than fan come kickoff, but at the end of it all, this really is the closest thing to a guaranteed W for SU this season. And it also will be one more victory closer to yet another bowl trip.

Yet, that's really the crux of all of this, that projecting ahead is probably the biggest reason to be excited about Friday. And by the way, and as you'll see later this week, I am predicting more wins for Syracuse than I have in over a decade. Still, any hype is certainly not due to the opponent, which is nothing of a draw like in years past.

Just look at the last decade's opener opponents for starters.

  • 2004: at Purdue (Run for your life, Joe Fields!)
  • 2005: West Virginia
  • 2006: at Wake Forest
  • 2007: Washington
  • 2008: at Northwestern
  • 2009: Minnesota
  • 2010: at Akron
  • 2011: Wake Forest
  • 2012: Northwestern
  • 2013: Penn State* (New Jersey)
The most striking thing about that slate? The fact that SU opened with the Big Ten five times in the last ten openers.
After that, even if you include the game at Akron, there was a little to a lot of buzz to those match-ups every year, right? Again, I know the ultimate goal is to get a win, and everyone will be much happier in November when Syracuse is counting each and every victory up to see if the sum is bowl worthy. But it's a little depressing to think that we'll already be able to play "How Many Actual Butts Will Be In Seats," over waiting until any of the other home games.
Really, would you be surprised if the announced attendance is anywhere from 8,000 to 10,000 above the actual bodies-in-building count? Bleeeek. It's a game that isn't even good enough for television. Now your local city council meeting is competing for page views with the Syracuse Orange! (Of course, that's all subject to change if Time Warner picks up the Online feed and throws the game up on one of its sports channels.) Congratulations, schedule makers, you've really out done yourselves here.
But we've known all of this for months, and for months I thought as we got closer to kickoff the usual feelings would come back around like they do every season. But there's just something different, something off this time. Maybe it's opening with Villanova and then following that up with a bye week that has everything kind of out of whack. I'll be in the house on Friday, but it's a strange start, no question.
Yes, Syracuse will most likely up its recent record in weekday games to 6-1 come late Friday night. And, just the same, everyone, most of whom will be squinting at their laptops and phones, will be happy the year started with a victory. Then they can all keep waiting for the season to actually begin two weeks later at Central Michigan.



Syracuse Football 2014: Why The Orange Will Finish 8-4


Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports


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Will 2014 end with eight wins? It's either the baseline or the bottom line for a successful season and Syracuse's path there is doable.

Ed. Note - This week, TNIAAM writers are taking a stab at telling you why this football team will finish with a specific record.

    Five wins for Syracuse in 2014, six, seven, eight, or even nine victories? Who knows what this fall will bring for the Orange. Well, check that, there is one fairly respected source who has a little bit of insight we should all be listening to when it comes to projections.

    "The goal is to get better each season. That's why we start off by saying we want to win eight games. Ultimately, we want to win an ACC championship, and that's the goal and we want to do that with kids graduating. That's where the bar set is right now."

    The words of Syracuse Orange head coach Scott Shafer speaking on ESPN 97.7's "Upon Further Review." Another honest admission from an all too rare honest coach. Sure, that was from April and it was Shafer essentially laying the groundwork for fans: Expect a little better each year until we reach the mountaintop. Seven wins last year should mean eight this year and hopefully nine the following, and on and on. Not exactly a classic prediction and certainly not too controversial.

    And yet, there is a faction of fans refusing to believe eight wins is the ceiling at Syracuse. A lot of people have fairly delusional thoughts of the Orange routinely getting to 10 or even more wins, despite the fact that's really never been the case for the program.

    See, eight victories for this program is really a good measure of success. Occasionally Syracuse will fall short and sometimes it will exceed, but eight wins sounds right for regular expectations. Actually, while we all debate whether "Syracuse Football is back," the Orange has gone out and averaged seven victories a season the last four years. Back or not, it sounds like things are close.

    So how does this all add up in 2014? How will the program stay on the up and up and back up Shafer's kind-of prediction? What is the path for Syracuse to finish with eight victories?

    Obviously, and above all, key players on both sides of the ball will have to play to, and in some cases above, their abilities. That means Terrel Hunt has to take another step forward as starting quarterback, the running back stable will have to be a workhorse by rotation, and the defense will have to replace Jay Bromley while creating more havoc.

    On top of all of that?

    First, avoid traps. That means there can't be a slipup at Central Michigan, and ugly or not, a W against Maryland is a necessity. I'll tell you, my "Uh Oh" senses have been tingling about that game in Mt Pleasant, Michigan for months.

    Second, win a couple of road games. Last year SU was able to scratch out a couple of slobberknockers on the road (N.C. State, Maryland), the same will have to be done at Wake Forest, Pittsburgh and Boston College this year. Win two of those three and the Orange will be in great shape. And the thing is, there is no reason why Syracuse can't win all three of those contests.

    (Syracuse won three times on the road in 2012 and an astounding four times away from the dome in 2010. Why do I mention this here? Because, like last season, '12 and '10 concluded with bowl trips. To go bowling, teams have to win at least a couple of roadies.)

    Third, pull some magic (Troy Nunes styles) out of the hat. I'm guessing Florida State is going to run circles around Syracuse, but what about Louisville? Doesn't that seem like a perfect chance for an "upset"? Also, while it likely won't be close to what it was last year (so many injuries), a win over Duke at the dome on November 8 looks still like a potential late season-defining game as well.

    Lastly, a little luck can only help. That's an impossible intangible to figure, but regardless, every "good" team seems to find some breaks every now and then. Remember 2004 through, oh, 2009? The only thing lucky about Syracuse football back then was that it only lasted three months out of the year. For 2014, the first "lucky bounce" may be what's happening at Notre Dame -- four key contributors are being held out of practice and academic fraud may lead to some major trouble for this Irish team and the entire program. I'm not saying Syracuse is now a lock to beat a depleted Notre Dame, but the odds have certainly shifted. Who knows, maybe this scandal indirectly helps SU move to 4-0 to close out September? And you know which team is up next? Louisville.

    Hmm....maybe I've gone too low on SU?

    Regardless, before we get all the way down that road, Syracuse has to get to and get through August 29. There's little question that a loss to Villanova to start the season would change the probability of eight wins happening for the worse. Of course, I think SU beats the Wildcats, and then the Chippewas, Terrapins, (I just can't pull the trigger on Syracuse beating Notre Dame, not yet anyway) Cardinals, Demon Deacons, Wolfpack, Blue Devils and Eagles. That's the way to the ceiling or the floor of eight wins for Syracuse. The way it should be, the way foretold by Scott Shafer himself.



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    We're back, everyone!

    After a little more than two years away, Matt Mc's Sports Fix is rebooting and is ready to bring you coverage of North Country sports. In fact, we are here to be your source for Frontier League sports, Watertown Red and Black and Rams coverage, and, of course, Syracuse Orange discussion.

    Also, each morning Fox Sports 1410 will air North Country ScoreCenters: I'll have updates on what happened on the courts and fields locally and a preview for what's on tap tonight.

    And then there's the Sports Fix - airing Friday mornings from 7 to 9. We will put a two-hour spotlight on the players, coaches and media that make up North Country sports. Plus, as always, I'll mix in a few opinions and we may even break news every now and again, too. But above all, the Sports Fix is here for you, so let us know your thoughts via email: and Twitter: @matthewmcclusky!

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